City of Elgin Council, mayoral candidates discuss reasons for running

Councilwoman+Rose+Martinez%2C+left%2C+and+council+board+candidate+Jerri+McCue%2C+right%2C+conveyed+the+reasons+behind+their+candidacies+for+Elgin+city+council.+
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City of Elgin Council, mayoral candidates discuss reasons for running

Councilwoman Rose Martinez, left, and council board candidate Jerri McCue, right, conveyed the reasons behind their candidacies for Elgin city council.

Councilwoman Rose Martinez, left, and council board candidate Jerri McCue, right, conveyed the reasons behind their candidacies for Elgin city council.

Arturo Chuatz

Councilwoman Rose Martinez, left, and council board candidate Jerri McCue, right, conveyed the reasons behind their candidacies for Elgin city council.

Arturo Chuatz

Arturo Chuatz

Councilwoman Rose Martinez, left, and council board candidate Jerri McCue, right, conveyed the reasons behind their candidacies for Elgin city council.

Arturo Chuatz, Staff Writer

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Local elections rarely get the press that state elections get, which get less press than the presidential elections. The city of Elgin is not an exception to this common incident. After asking eight of my friends, all of whom are residents of the city of Elgin, what they thought of the people running for local office, none could reply with a substantive answer that wasn’t aided by Google.

Despite that, people do run for office and decide to run for various reasons.

According to the city of Elgin’s website, “the Elgin City Council will have the position of Mayor, four council member seats for a four-year term and one Council Member seat for a two-year term open in the 2019 election.”

Dave Kaptain, who is running for a successive third term as Mayor, stated that a large part of the reason behind his continual drive to serve the city of Elgin comes from his deep roots in the city.

“I want to make Elgin a city of choice,” Kaptain said. “And I mean that in a sustainable way that’s not just environmental. Sustainable means to me that we have good education, good jobs, [somewhere] people can pray and [be a place] where businesses can come and believe that they can be successful.”

Kaptain, who as mayor, oversaw the change of revenue streams for the city, which initially depended too much on property taxes, listed this as one of the main issues tackled throughout his tenure and catalysts for the vision of sustainability that he has in mind for the city.

Lastly, as an ECC alum, Kaptain recognizes the importance of voters, especially current ECC students, to go out and cast their vote.

“If you want the kind of opportunities that lead to better job opportunities and scholarships, you need to get out and support [local legislatures],” Kaptain said. “Young people need to get out and vote.”

Tish Powell, one of the current seating councilwoman who’s also seeking reelection, also noted the special importance of these sorts of elections, in particular to the younger voters.

A native of Michigan who relocated to Elgin in 1999, Powell is behind some of the leadership programs that provide students early leadership opportunities. Furthermore, she was one of the main advocates for the 2015 ordinance that saw the decriminalization of small amounts of marijuana in the city of Elgin.

“The vast majority of people arrested with these types of charges are young people,” Powell said. “I didn’t want young people to be shackled with arrest records that could interfere with pursuing their career goals.”

Aware of the changes in the social environment surrounding young people, Powell acknowledged that ordinance as one of her most recent moments of pride.

“I’m very proud of that,” Powell said.

Anthony Ortiz, a former marine and ECC alum, is also running for a four-year council member seat. At 29, he is seeking to become the youngest council member in this year’s cycle of elections.

“I recognize that a lot of people don’t view me the same because of my age, but I want them to know that I don’t need endorsements,” Ortiz said. “The people [of Elgin] mean everything to me, and I want to represent the people.”

Ortiz noted that what propelled him to run for office was how he saw money being allocated for the youth projects in Elgin. He felt a sense of neglect toward young people.

“What actually pushed me to the edge to get my name on the ballot was when I was looking through the 200-page document budget for the city of Elgin,” Ortiz said. “There were $50,000 budgeted for youth projects but most of that was to get parks up to ADA standards.”

On top of adjusting the way money is allocated for youth projects, if elected, Ortiz also wishes to implement recreational centers for veterans and increase the fiber optic infrastructure in downtown Elgin specifically, where he believes local businesses would benefit from the increased internet speed.

Rose Martinez, another native of Elgin and military veteran with three tours under her belt, enjoyed a lengthy career as a post office clerk. It wasn’t until after her retirement and the insistence of people close to her that the idea of running for city council truthfully became a possibility for her. She’s now seeking reelection.

Martinez said that of the many issues at hand that she seeks to address are outdated street patterns and creating safer intersections for people, in particular, school children, to cross.

“Safety is a big issue for me,” Martinez said. “I believe it was 2015 or 2016 when there was a U-46 child crossing route 20 and was killed and [a lot] of people were asking what could be done to prevent that from ever happening again.”

 

Being currently employed as a bus driver, Martinez recognized that the most immediate remedy to prevent those sorts of issues from happening again is by creating safer crossing sections.

“Being a school bus driver, I see how hard it is cross those sorts of intersections,” Martinez said. “So one of the things that I did was to have a blinking light on the signs that the children could press.”

Ultimately, Martinez hopes that her work is remembered and appreciated for its value and impact on her city and not solely remembered for being the result of the “first Latina in the city of Elgin to serve on the council.”

Jerri McCue, who made the permanent trip from Omaha, Nebraska to Illinois 36 years ago with her husband, is running for the two-year council seat.

McCue, a nurse and former treasurer for the Downtown Neighborhood Association, was drawn to the seat, like other candidates, because although the city is rich in history, Elgin could use some revamping.

“People are firmly planted here, but you have to adjust and have it so that our downtown is thriving again,” McCue said when asked about the significance of the council seat to her and the people of Elgin.

If elected, one of the main issues that McCue would like to address is the whole grey area surrounding the mental health issues of homeless individuals. According to McCue, there’s two types of homelessness, which both require a different set of tools and approach method.

“We try to address homelessness but that in itself is a complex issue because I think we have factions of homelessness,” McCue said. “We have people who are just circumstantial and looking to get back on the right track and then we have people who are completely disenfranchised and they don’t want help. We have to differentiate between that.”

The Consolidated Election will be held on Tuesday, April 2.